Ocean Poem

Blue Ocean Institute was good enough to publish my poem "Ocean." See it here.

Bruce Curley

Sometimes you need to write
but you’re stuck in traffic

or the baby is screaming
so loud your head is about to explode

or you have no pen or paper
so you run into a Royal Farm convenience store
and buy pen, paper, and coffee
but the coffee spills all over your paper

it happens

poems get burned by fascists, too,
great poems better than any I’ve ever written

it happens

in the end it may be how you treated your family
that determines how your poetry does anyway,
so don’t neglect them for that poem

when you’re no longer around,
they decide what poems are worth preserving,
and which go over to the dump

keep that in mind
the next time you just want your family
to go away so you can write that poem

it’s like the baby about to be born
whose mother cries out

but instead of childbirth
it’s 495 traffic
301 traffic, 50 traffic

I scream, trying to keep in mind
there is birth at the end of this journey, too

and just when the mother
thinks her body will break
and the pain that rips her very being in half

and just when I think the traffic will bring
me to road rage break
something opens ever so slightly
the head has popped out surely,

the road has begun
to glide by in actual miles


the body bursts forth
from the water of the womb
to the womb of the ocean

and here
renewal is granted
through the baptism
of brine and salt goodness
to clean away all these suburban sins

and as new as the idea of solid land
was at childbirth
is the newly-realized fact that here

is the precious ocean
the holy water of the holy water planet
the only water planet we know

bow down as at birth
to taste its full bounty
as humbly enter this sluice water
as the transparent water of your birth

realize how that first body
birth water was taken
from this salt water body

that is the ocean

grant, if for a moment,
how dependent your life
and the lives of your family
are on this water

as in a bad marriage
it is never too late
to begin the relationship again

once humility, love, discipline,
grace and respect come with you
to the gaps in the waves

Bruce Curley’s work has appeared most recently in WordWrights, The Potomac Review, Lynx Eye, and the anthology Beyond Lament: Poets of the World Bearing Witness to the Holocaust, ed. Marguerite M. Striar (Northwestern University Press, 1998). He recorded a CD of his poetry with Xeximian Records of Tampa, Florida, the week before 9/11. He lives in Mt. Airy, Maryland.

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